The World can offer you an alternative to life on land. Consider buying an apartment on a residential ship that continuously circles the globe.
By Nicole Buckler
The World is the largest privately-owned residential yacht on earth. It has 165 private residences, which occasionally change hands like normal residential real estate.
Imagine the ultimate lifestyle that comes from combining a private yacht and a luxury holiday home. A home that takes you all around the globe, allowing you to wake up to new scenery outside your private veranda every few days.
The World – the Route
The residents who live on the 644-foot luxury ship experience different cultures and beautiful destinations, all from the comfort of their own home. Want to check it out? The vessel docks in Australia every few years. So stay tuned to their website for updates.
In 2020, the vessel will undertake an expedition to the Kimberley Islands, before setting sail for Southeast Asia. And then onwards to Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, and then the Red Sea. The Middle East is after that. After gliding through the waters of the Mediterranean in June, it is onto Northern Europe, Russia, and the United Kingdom before crossing the Atlantic to spend autumn on North America’s eastern coast. After visiting Montreal, next is the heat of Havana, before turning towards the Panama Canal and onward to the Pacific. Peru, Chile, and Argentina are next. Then, Antarctica for New Year’s Eve. Sound good? Well, read on, because this is a lifestyle rather than a holiday. If you buy an apartment on the ship, you can live this lifestyle forever.
The World – a Small Town
The World is a floating city, or perhaps we could call it a small town. On board are six restaurants, golf facilities with putting greens and a state-of-the-art golf simulator, a full-size tennis court, swimming pools, a spa, a fitness centre, expert destination lecturers, a library, and a cinema. Also on board is an art gallery, arts and crafts, billiards, a florist, a gourmet deli, housekeeping services, a laundry, medical centre, nightclub, nondenominational chapel, a boutique, a concierge, video and board games, and youth program. The ship also has staff who do things for you. They can cook for you in a restaurant, or in your apartment. They have an onboard supermarket, getting produce from local ports.
But will it be crawling with people? Nope. The average occupancy at one time is 150 – 200 residents and guests. This isn’t anything like a usual cruise ship experience.
This ‘community at sea’ first set sail in 2002 and has visited over 900 ports in over 140 countries. With a continuous worldwide itinerary that enables the vessel to span the globe every two to three years, the ship is a complete floating city. The ship is privately owned by residents of The World – 142 families from 19 countries – North America (49%), various European countries (36%), and Asia, Australia, and South Africa (15%).
On average, residents spend around three to six months on board every year. And here’s the good news. The ship doesn’t just go around in the same circles every year. Itineraries are determined by a community vote.
Continuous worldwide journeys, with a focus on extended stays of an average of three days in port, ensure that residents have sufficient time to explore their favourite destinations. Unlike most vessels, The World spends nearly twice as many days at ports than it does at sea. In 2015, the ship visited more than 120 ports, in approximately 40 countries.
Knut U. Kloster Jr., the visionary behind The World, grew up in a family that was passionate about life at sea. After many years of working on the world’s best yachts and cruise ships, Kloster had a dream to create a way in which travellers never had to disembark. They could sail for as long as they wished from the comfort of their own private residence. As such, in 1997 he gathered together a team of experienced professionals and began working on the first vessel where people could travel the globe without leaving home. Construction of the vessel began in May 2000 in Rissa, Norway and in March 2002 Kloster’s dream was realised when The World set sail from Oslo with its inaugural residents on board. Her maiden voyage departed from Lisbon, Portugal in 2002. By June 2006, the original inventory of residences was sold out.
The World is the first ship of its size burning marine diesel oil rather than heavy bunker fuel, making for a much more environmentally friendly ship and allowing The World to call in areas where ships burning heavy fuel are banned.
If you want to buy real estate on the ship, you have a choice ranging from studios to expansive three-bedroom apartments. And of course, there is a palatial six-bedroom penthouse suite, which can sleep 12 people. So, the golden question is, how much do apartments cost? There are 165 apartments on The World and prices vary based on size, décor, location and market conditions. Current prices are rumoured to be hovering around $1.5m for studio flats, and the top suites up to $15 million. But considering that you spend your time travelling, and you can sell the apartment at any time, it does seem compelling.
There are other costs however, like annual ownership costs, based on the square footage of the apartments. These fees include a resident’s share of ship preservation, operations, crew compensation, and food and beverage onboard. If you can’t afford to buy an apartment, then you can go on board as a guest. To be a guest you have to be invited onboard by a resident. So perhaps you might want to start sucking up and stalking people onboard.
The average age of residents is 58 with 35% under 50. Residents are very active, entrepreneurial and philanthropic, and they have a thirst for knowledge, adventure and travel. There are some residents who live on the ship year-round, with the majority continuing to be active in their professional lives.
Work and Play
If you work from home, and don’t have to participate in a string of face-to-face meetings, then living onboard is a compelling idea. Every residence is wired for internet and has its own public IP address. Residents choose from a variety of internet bandwidth offerings depending on their needs. Residents can host a conference call, check email or conduct web-based research from virtually anywhere on the planet in their “office away from home.”
Imagine operating your company from the privacy and convenience of your home office while gazing out of your living room window at Borneo’s exotic coastline or the breath-taking cliffs of Norway. Sounds pretty good, right? I think we have found the future of travel. ■
Editor for Silver Magazine Gold Coast